Winning Ways

by Don Rodriguez

Whether working in solitude or as a team, being an innovator likely means working long days in relative anonymity while perfecting what may be — or not — the next big thing. But for at least one night of the year, the Arizona Technology Council casts the spotlight on the segment of the science and technology focused on making a better future.

The Council in conjunction with the Arizona Commerce Authority recently paid tribute to the most noteworthy accomplishments when they announced award winners at the 14th Governor’s Celebration of Innovation (GCOI), a gala attended by the top technology companies and leaders in Arizona, who included Gov. Doug Ducey. More than 700 people representing Arizona’s booming tech ecosystem attended the early November event that featured the theme “Disruptive Technology.”

“As our technology community continues to grow, the bar for innovation is set higher and higher,” says Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “This year’s winners represent the best and brightest companies and individuals our state has to offer.” Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, says, “Their accomplishments are helping grow Arizona’s economy and advance our competitive position globally.”

The 2017 GCOI winners in their respective categories are:

Company awards

  • Innovator of the Year – Start-Up Company: Akos MD, Phoenix
  • Innovator of the Year – Small Company: Paragon Space Development Corporation, Tucson
  • Innovator of the Year – Large Company: PacSci EMC, Chandler
  • Innovator of the Year – Academia: Professors Jeffrey Pyun, Robert (Bob) Norwood, Novel Polymeric Materials, The University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Judges Award: Digital Citizen Academy, Scottsdale

Individual awards

  • AccountabilIT Lifetime Achievement Award: Bob Parsons, founder of GoDaddy, American entrepreneur and philanthropist
  • Ed Denison Business Leader of the Year: Jeffrey Pruitt, founder, CEO and chairman, Tallwave and Tallwave Capital, Scottsdale
  • Chairman’s Award: Robert Witwer, recently retired vice president of advanced technology at Honeywell. Witwer served on the Council’s Board of Directors since 2011 and was chairman of the board for two years.

Legislator awards

  • Outstanding Tech Senator of the Year: Sen. Karen Fann, District 1
  • Outstanding Tech Representative of the Year: Rep. Regina Cobb, District 5

Tech Ten Legislators

  • Sen. Sean Bowie, District 18
  • Sen. Sonny Borrelli, District 5
  • Sen. Lupe Contreras, District 19
  • Sen. David Farnsworth, District 16
  • Sen. Kimberly Yee, District 20
  • Rep. Heather Carter, District 15
  • Rep. Cesar Chavez, District 29
  • Rep. Randy Friese M.D., District 9
  • Rep. Becky Nutt, District 14
  • Rep. Jeff Weninger, District 17

Future Innovators of the Year Awards representing the top performers in the Arizona engineering and science fairs (grades 9-12) for the year 2016. Each winner receives a $1,000 scholarship:

  • Joseph Galasso, Galasso Homeschool, Tucson
  • Somil Jain and Sachin Jaishankar, Hamilton High School, Chandler
  • Seoyoon Kim, BASIS Peoria High School, Peoria
  • Vilina Mehta, Basis Scottsdale High School, Scottsdale

Future Innovators of the Year honorable mentions:

  • Ava Christensen, Empire High School, Tucson
  • Heaven May Murphy, Tombstone High School, Tombstone

Teacher of the Year award:

  • Marni Landry, Paradise Valley CREST (Center for Research Engineering Science and Technology), Phoenix

Teacher honorable mention:

  • Pradip C. Misra, Bagdad High School, Bagdad

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